Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Myth: Trans fats have already been taken out of our foods.

Answer: BUSTED, kind of...

"Total fat" section of a nutrition label under a magnifying glass
Trans fat allows foods to have a longer shelf life. Partially hydrogenated oil is a source of trans fat in our diet and it is found in many processed foods including desserts, microwave popcorn and crackers. Trans fat raises your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol and increases your chances of getting heart disease. Because of these health risks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing that all trans fats be removed from foods.

The reason people think trans fats have already been taken out of the food we eat is because, in 2006, the FDA required food labels to list how much trans fat was in a packaged product. This focus on trans fat caused many manufacturers to start changing their products so that their products were trans-fat free or almost trans-fat free. In 2007, New York City banned trans fats in restaurants. Since that time, 15 states and other places have banned trans fat and more than 10 fast food restaurants have eliminated trans fat entirely.

However, current FDA regulations allow manufacturers to label a food trans-fat free if the food has 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving. So, many foods may still have a small amount of trans fat in them. Although 1/2 gram may seem like a very small amount, if you eat several foods with that amount during the day, it starts to add up. The American Heart Association recommends that people should eat less than 2 grams of trans fats a day. The Institute of Medicine recommends keeping the amount of trans fat in your diet as low as possible.

The FDA proposal is the beginning of a long process. There will be a 60 day comment period. After this, the actual process to implement this change will occur gradually to give food manufacturers time to find alternative ingredients for their products and change food labels. This proposal will affect the way that many of our foods are made.

In the meantime, the best advice to avoid trans fat is this: Focus on choosing foods like fruits and vegetables, lean meat and dairy, and whole grain breads and cereals. Read the ingredient list on packaged foods to see if it includes partially hydrogenated oils.

For more information about healthy food choices, visit

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, Nutrition and Health Education, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

1 comment:

  1. Banning and regulating foods is political tyranny based on junk science. No real evidence exists linking trans fats to heart disease; there is only consensus of the same people who called CO2 and milk poisons and who were wrong about saturated fats and fats in general before. Political consensus intermingled with crony socialism is destroying REAL science


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